Via Arts & Letters Daily, I discovered a blog written by board members of the National Book Critics Circle. They have a guest post: Morris Dickstein on the Critical Landscape Today. I like some of the points he makes, and I too lament the falling-away of book reviews in major newspapers. I can’t help thinking it’s a very bad sign for the state of reading in America. But Dickstein betrays a basic elitism that I really can’t agree with:
But book reviews, to be of any value, demand a trained sensibility and real critical expertise; they need to furnish more than rough-hewn consumer guidance and the colorful peeves of the man in the street.
This kind of thinking, in any field, ends up producing reviews (and elevating creations) that speak only to a small coterie of insiders. Hardly the stuff that will save reviews in newspapers, which need to be aimed at a popular audience.